Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) gave us the opportunity to come and visit their Arrowhead Springs site and bottling factory located respectively in the mountains north of San Bernardino and in Cabazon, California. Discover in pictures the different steps from spring water to bottle.
Lost in the middle of the mountains, the Arrowhead springs are barely accessible by foot. If you want to enjoy the few-hours hike it takes to get to the spring, don’t forget to wear long sleeves and gloves to prevent poisoning from plants, as well as ankle and calf protection to protect yourself from snake bites.
The catchment building at one of the Springs isn’t bigger than the little brick shelter you can see there, to the left of Larry Lawrence. The power needed for monitoring the site comes entirely from the small solar panel visible in the background. Larry is the Natural Resource Manager for NWNA’s Arrowhead Springs. He is the one making sure the resource is wisely managed in a sustainable manner. California has long faced water issues and Nestlé Waters works with stakeholders around the Springs to ensure a sustainable use of water.
Inside this shelter is part of the piping that collects water from Springs 10, 11, and 12. Nestle Waters North America’s Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water is sourced from spring sources located throughout California.
The spring water collected at Arrowhead Springs flows to the surface in a combination of historical water tunnels and horizontal borings. From one of the catchments, you can barely see a small stainless steel pipeline going down the mountain. Gravity is the only force used in the entire journey from these springs to the load station through a 4-inch (102 mm) stainless steel pipe. In this pipeline, water flows directly to the nearby water tanks, making it ready for truck loading. Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water is bottled at factories located in Cabazon, Ontario, San Bernardino and Los Angeles, all within 50 miles of Arrowhead Springs.
NWNA has maintained a very high level of water stewardship practices in California. In 2017 they certified all of their California based production facilities through an international water stewardship program. NWNA’s Cabazon factory (above) recently achieved the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Gold Standard certification and was the first factory in North America to do so. AWS is an independent certification standard organization that ensures resources are managed carefully, and operations led sustainably. For instance, 50% of the power needed to run the factory is generated by three dedicated, on-site wind turbines. One of them is visible at the back of this picture.
Can you guess what these small tubes are? Any idea? They are plastic bottles! NWNA calls them preforms. NWNA receives both recycled and virgin PET plastic pellets and makes them into these preforms onsite in Cabazon and Ontario. Once warmed and molded, they will take the form of half-liter bottles. On average, at the Cabazon factory, the half-liter bottles are made of 50% recycled plastic.
Another reason why the factory has achieved the AWS gold certification is that everything is sorted and reused inside the factory. Excess and waste water is reused in the cooling towers, which along with other recycling techniques saves 15 million gallons of water a year. I was also surprised not to find any leaks from the pipes or puddles on the ground. You could literally eat off the floor.
At the end of the process, packs are ready to be shipped regionally. These bottles contain water right from the spring—literally from spring to bottle.